On the 9th March 2019 at 1.30am six of our male pupils accompanied by their parents met at the school car park. The boys were meeting to begin their journey to Finland! The visit is part of our Erasmus+ project CREACTION and was the first pupil mobility of the project.
Mr Chiswell, Mr Wood and Mr McQueen were also on the visit and everyone was excited about the adventure ahead of them. The group flew from Manchester to Frankfurt and then to Helsinki. It was a long journey but worth the wait, when they arrived in Helsinki they were taken back by the landscape and the beauty of the country.
The group stayed in a villa next to a lake near Jarvenpaa. On the evening they arrived the boys had fun exploring the area and playing in the snow!
Their first full day was Sunday. It was a day to acclimatise and prepare themselves for the busy week ahead of them.
On Monday it was the boys first day in our Finnish partners school. They wore their freshly ironed uniforms, they looked very smart. Everyone was nervous to introduce themselves to the pupils and teachers from other countries having only worked with them online previously. They settled in well and were welcomed with open arms to their new school.
The Finnish philosophy with education is that everyone has something to contribute and those who struggle in certain subjects should not be left behind.
Finland's Education Minister, Henna Virkkunen is proud of her country's record but her next goal is to target the brightest pupils.
''The Finnish system supports very much those pupils who have learning difficulties but we have to pay more attention also to those pupils who are very talented. Now we have started a pilot project about how to support those pupils who are very gifted in cert ain areas.''
The day went well and the pupils and teachers introduced our school via a presentation. They told them all about us and what our values and ethos is. This went down very well and the pupils were very brave to stand in front of such a big audience and talk about our school. We are all very proud of them.
The rest of the day involved a tour of the school and introductions from our other partners from France, Spain, Italy and Turkey. The pupils then had some activities to get to know the other pupils. They were all very shy at first but soon they became more at ease and began to make friends with the other pupils.
That evening they enjoyed a group activity of sledging. It was so much fun and everyone had a wonderful time.
On Tuesday they were back at school. The theme of the visit was to work on their ESafety project together. In school our pupils had made a video about how to be safe online. They presented this to the rest of the group. Everyone was very impressed with their video and praised them for they excellent video making skills. They then separated into groups and worked on different tasks all about being safe on the internet. Our teachers were very impressed by the boys confidence and for them getting involved with the activities.
That evening the whole group went bowling together. This was the perfect opportunity for them to get to know each other in a less formal environment. hey had fun and enjoyed mixing with the other pupils and making new friends.
On Wednesday they visited another local school. This school specialised in music. They had a fun day of singing and dancing. Mr Chiswell and Mr Wood even had a Sumo Wresting match against each other...Mr Wood won of course!
That evening they enjoyed a wind down evening back at the villa. They had fun in the snow and then socialising with their own group. This was a great time to build on their own friendships and also talk about what they had experienced so far.
On Thursday they took a trip into Finland's capital city Helsinki. They explored the city and visited a Modern Art Gallery. They enjoyed looking at the exhibits and they behaved extremely well! That evening they held a small party at the villa, inviting some of the Finnish pupils to watch a movie together. This was very successful and they enjoyed being hosts of their own party.
Friday was their last day with the pupils from the other schools. It was a sad day because our pupils did not want the experience to end. They had made such good friends with the other pupils and had had such a wonderful time in Finland. That day they explored the local town Jarverpaa. They visited a church and were very respectful throughout the whole day. Walking around the town they hugged and linked arms with their new friends. Our teachers were very proud of them and could not believe how far socially they had come during the visit.
On Friday evening there was a farewell disco! Our boys dressed to impress and danced the night away. At the end of the disco there was not a dry eye in the room! Everyone was crying because they knew the experience was over. They said their goodbyes to their new friends and made promises to keep in touch with each other.
The whole trip was a life changing experience for our pupils. As a school we continue to break boundaries and push our pupils to be the best versions of themselves...and they certainly were during this visit.
Mr Wood who attended the trip said;
"Going to Finland was a huge change for our pupils, it was a long trip there and the pupils were very sensible during the hectic day, when we got to the school on the first morning you could see that our pupils were very shy and wanted a member of staff with them at all times, but as the project went on our pupils became more and more independent, you could see that the boys who went starting to enjoy and take part in things that they would never have done before. Going on a school trip abroad is something that you never forget and this definitely applies to our boys, they have made friends for life and have even told us that they would love to go to school in Finland."